Mark E Smith: “I’m not going to give all my secrets away”

The Fall leader answers your questions

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When the revolving doors discharge Mark E Smith into the lobby of a plush central Manchester hotel, they reveal not the ravaged figure with a terrible temper that some reports might suggest, but a man looking well, and one not shy of extending considerable courtesy.

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This much, of course, we should have known. If the leader of The Fall has done anything over the 30 years in which he has led his group through their bilious take on modern events, it has been to do exactly the opposite of what you might expect of him. Well, almost.

“Pleased to meet you, sir,” he says, extending a hand. “Let’s go through there and get a drink, shall we?”

Later, as this drink continues in a more informal vein, Mark will charm star-struck Fall fans, strongly recommend married life, and state his conviction that Robert Plant’s band is paid by Hackney council.

In its early stages, however, Mark answers questions contributed by Uncut readers, and does so in the same way he has for many years. Not shy of offering an opinion, protective of his privacy, and particularly sensitive to the notion that he might be seen as a caricature of himself, on some level he’s like Arthur Seaton, the young man played by Albert Finney in Saturday Night And Sunday Morning – “Whatever you say I am, that’s what I’m not.”

Still, there’s no harm in asking him a question, is there?

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